New York Port Authority Rife With Corruption


New York Port Authority Rife With Corruption

While Bridgegate stinks like a dead fish on the Jersey Shore, David Wildstein, a key figure in the scandal is set to plead guilty on Thursday and is cooperating with prosecutors probing the Fort Lee traffic jams.

Wildstein is currently scheduled to appear in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, where grand jurors have heard testimony in secret for months, according to anonymous sources. It isn't known what charge he's set to plead guilty to.

What isn't apparent outside of New York is that Bridgegate is merely an example of a chronic problem: the corruption of one of America's most vital infrastructure agencies, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have used the agency as a slush fund, doling out patronage jobs and steering money and resources from those they don't like to those they do. In doing so they've followed in a long line of governors to have done so.

The magnitude of the slush funds becomes apparent when you look the fees charged by the agency. A big rig driving from Philadelphia to Boston passing through New York City on I-95 pays a cash toll at the bridge of $114. Regular cars pay a whopping $14.

The annual revenue from tolls is $650 million, far more than the agency needs for the upkeep of the span.

But the slush fund gets bigger. You also overpay if passing through John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia Airport, or Newark Liberty International Airport. All are being milked as cash cows even though they are chronically under-invested in.

While a 1982 federal law prohibits airport revenue from being spent on non-airport uses, the New York airports are grandfathered in along with a handful of others around the country, including those of Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, and Boston.

The scale of the rot is tremendous. Mid-level public officials around the country are able to seriously interfere with trade while allocating the ill-gotten resources to pet projects that further their political careers and help their friend.

The Port Authority's byzantine structure of cross-subsidies results in New York’s most critical facilities being starved of investment.

TV host John Oliver named the Port Authority Bus Terminal "the worst place on planet Earth" and said even the cockroaches want to escape. When Joe Biden wanted to make a point about infrastructure last year, he said anyone brought to La Guardia Airport in blindfold would think, "I must be in some Third World country."

The testimony of Mr Wildstein could have far reaching implications. After stories of EMS vehicles and school buses being delayed to political fighting the feds, and American in general, have taken notice. It would not be surprising to see serious charges drawn up against those responsible for the mismanagement of these institutions.

It would also not be surprising to see Chris Christie dragged neck deep into any such actions, especially if he decides to make a serious run for President.

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